Beaconing is maturing.
From the consumer’s side, there still is the obvious issue of having Bluetooth turned on so that an app can be triggered by a nearby beacon.
And then there’s the issue of having an appropriate app programmed for a particular beacon.
And lastly, there’s the issue of who actually agrees to accept messaging, such as while shopping in a large department store.
None of this is stopping the spread of beacons. For example, Yelp is ordering 4,000 beacons that can be used for location-based messaging in stores or restaurants found via Yelp.
And merchants using beacons are finding that with the right incentives and value provided, a number of consumers will accept the messaging and that engagement rates can be quite high.
On the other side of beaconing are other merchant issues, with one of the challenges being details around the actual beacon.
Since most beacons are battery-operated, the idea of a retailer installing thousands of beacons and then having to change batteries a short time later can create a major roadblock.
A while back, beacon-maker Gimbal came out with a beacon with four batteries, which Gimbal told me can last for 18 months.
Now Boston-based Swirl Networks has upped the ante, introducing a new beacon with a battery life of six years.
Without getting into the details of how the sausage is made, the new beacon runs on a new chip that uses less power and a real-time clock that lets a retailer power down the beacon when a store is closed.
Although Swirl has never really been a beacon company, it has had enough dealing with large retailers to see the need to frequently change beacon batteries as a looming stumbling block for mass deployments.
I recently met with Hilmi Ozguc, founder and CEO of Swirl, and Rob Murphy, vice president of marketing, at the company’s new headquarters building and they told me they wanted to move their beaconing to the next generation of technology.
The company is backed by investments from Twitter, Simon, Hearst and Softbank , including $18 million in the latest round of financing, for a total of $32 million to date.
Swirl also recently received a patent for using beacons to trigger the delivery of targeted content to a mobile device based on a user’s location, as I wrote about here earlier this month (Swirl Gets Patent for Location-Based Targeted Marketing with Beacons).
While no one knows what the precise state of beaconing will be in six years, the beacons installation checklist is one item shorter.
Marketers, brands and retailers now can focus more on the messaging and less on the beacon itself.
With the entire multitude of issues around connected objects in the Internet of Things, at least changing beacon batteries won’t be among them.